The Kiwi karters contesting this year’s Australian Rotax Pro Tour are hoping for anything but rain at the fifth (and penultimate) round at Wodonga on the Victoria/New South Wales border this weekend.
Last weekend five of the nine also contesting this year’s Giltrap Group-backed New Zealand Rotax Max Challenge series battled constant and sometimes torrential rain at the sixth round at Te Puke and as top female driver Madeline Stewart (pictured) from Wellington said before repacking her bags this week; “hopefully, the weather will be better!”
Stewart, Josh Bethune from Auckland, and Sam Waddell from Tauranga will line up in the Rotax DD2 category this weekend. All three look like top six prospects, with Bethune second in the Final at the most recent Rotax Pro Tour round in Sydney, Stewart having enjoyed her best finish of the year in the KZ2 class in the Australian Kart Championship at the track earlier in the year, and Waddell fourth in the series points standings.
Having won rounds earlier in the season, both Palmerston North veteran Josh Hart and young Wellington driver Ryan Wood, are also capable of more podium finishes in their classes (Hart, 125 Rotax Light, Wood Junior Rotax). Both also have other Kiwis – as well as Aussies – snapping at their heels.
Hart in fact will be joined by two other compatriots in 125 Rotax Light, Michael McCulloch from the Kapiti Coast who is currently 9th overall, and former Wellington, now Melbourne-based female driver Ashleigh Stewart.
Ashleigh, who is Madeline Stewart’s older sister, has also raced at the Wodonga track before, and is confident of a good result there this weekend having tested at the track late last month under the guidance of local Supercar ace (and long-time karter) Macauley Jones.
Also looking for a breakthrough top two or three finish in his class this weekend is top Palmerston North-based Rotax Junior class runner Jackson Rooney. He is currently sixth in the class series points standings.
Flying the Kiwi flag in the Mini Max class, meanwhile, is young Auckland driver Sebastian Manson who is 10th in his class’s standing but more than capable of running near the front of the Mini Max field.
Once this round of the 2018 Rotax Pro Tour is done and dusted interest will start to build in the final round over the September 15-16 weekend now that the venue – an all new international length and spec kart track at the new The Bend motorsport complex at Tailem Bend in South Australia – has been named.
You can follow all the Rotax Pro Tour action at www.rotax.com.au or www.facebook.com/rotaxprotour.